The two Americas of Obama and Trump
© Greg Nash

President Obama gave a fantastic, stemwinder of a speech in Ottawa last week that kept Canada's House of Commons rising to its feet again and again for 54 minutes, shouting in chorus, "Four more years! Four more years!" And as USA Today reported, "Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE was not at the 'Three Amigos' summit of North American leaders ... but his presence hung over the continental conference anyway."


Hearing Obama's speech in contrast to what is passing through in the current presidential campaign gave the distinct impression of one world ending and another just beginning. Or better still, it gave the impression of a young, awakening North America shedding the skins of the past and rising again to a new dance: A new dance in a new creation; new thinking which will slip the borders of north and south and form a natural alliance based on New World sensibilities — an alliance which should have been there with us at the very beginning when we came individually and collectively to this continent, as we are together the new people to the world, having made passage from old outdated regimes and antiquated tribalists of every continent to get here.

The old ancien regimes, tangled in complexes, mired in past sins, still flaunt themselves, as Trump's strange and spooky cosmic cousin, Boris Johnson of Britain, the former mayor of London, rose and fell almost overnight and crippled Britain, leaving it adrift and despised in a world it had dominated for 500 years. As The New York Times reported, after Brexit, "London's days as the pre-eminent global financial capital, ranked even ahead of New York, may be numbered." A warning to Republicans who are about to destroy their own party and tradition at their convention in two weeks.

The false hopes — wishes, really — have finally passed. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, said last week that he might write in his wife's name for president, The Atlantic reported, and will not rise as a white knight to save America from Trump at the Republican convention.

These are the two Americas, two worlds: Obama's proposal of three sovereign states in North America, "Three Amigos" working harmoniously and diligently together on this continent, and Trump's world, here and after the British catastrophe, spreading throughout Europe. We know what they — and as of today "Trump" is now "they," meaning the Republicans, as Trump is their singular chosen agent and spokesperson and they are stuck with him — think of Mexico and what Mexico thinks of Trump. It is not clear if they recognize Canada at all.

One well-known Toronto scholar/writer offered in an email last week: "Our British brethren have no leaders as far as the eye can see (this is their most pathetic post-war hour), and our brethren to the south — y'all — have political tragicomedy masquerading as sophisticated democratic process and debate."

But it didn't have to be this way and it doesn't have to be this way, as the obvious linking of Canada, America and Mexico for economic prosperity and security was certainly not the exclusive product of policy wonks at the Democratic National Committee. A similar arrangement has been widely discussed by retired Gen. and former CIA Director David Petraeus and former World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

"It is time to put North America at the forefront of U.S. policy," they wrote in "North America: Time for a New Focus," a report sponsored by the Council for Foreign Affairs. "The development and implementation of a strategy for U.S. economic, energy, security, environmental, and societal cooperation with its two neighbors can strengthen the United States at home and enhance its influence abroad."

I heard this same idea first discussed in November 2014, by then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a forum for students at Dartmouth College.

Do conservative voters today remember Perry? Possibly the most important governor of a big industrial state since Teddy Roosevelt of New York, he brought Texas to the high-water mark of enterprise and prosperity in the post-war era. He ran for president last year, but he made the mistake of putting on a new pair of glasses and the media could think of nothing else.

If John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech was the gateway to our American future in 1963, Obama's "Three Amigos" speech could likewise open a gate and identify a path today. A similar speech could have been given by David Petraeus or Rick Perry. But America is unlikely to hear it at the Republican convention, where Trump wants star athletes to appear.

If America comes to listen at all.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at